Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Heaven and Hell / Coheed and Cambria @ the Warfield 10-Aug-2009

Heaven and Hell

This was another legacy act at the Warfield accompanied by a strong support band. I like Coheed and Cambria’s recordings a lot, at least the ones I have heard. Their singer amusingly sounds like Geddy Lee and their albums all allegedly form part of some giant comic book story. When performing live the band is led by its two guitarists. I don’t know their story but they look as though they taught each other to play guitar, their left hands move in exactly the same way on the guitar. Unfortunately their live sound is muddy and you can’t understand the singing or distinguish what the two guitarists are doing. I know this wasn’t just his concert as I watched some of their live DVDs as well. This is a case where they should let the singer concentrate on singing and hire another guitarist. They also didn’t seem to like being a support act and the only person who spoke was the bassist. The part of the audience that came for Coheed and Cambria was significantly younger than that for the headliners and there was some serious moshing.

Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell is the lineup of Black Sabbath Black that existed between 1980-1982 and 1991-1992. There have been some legal issues with the Black Sabbath name and so the band is touring under this moniker. So far so good, but they have made the foolish mistake of only playing Black Sabbath songs of their own era, ignoring the classic Ozzy stuff. Still, when they appear there is a lot of excitement, and many devil horns are thrust. Singer Ronnie James Dio has one of the classic voices of Heavy Metal. He looks great too, jumping around and grinning. He is careful to ration his screams, and his song introductions are a little verbose, I’m not sure we really needed to be told that their performance of a sing about the end of the world would not actually signal said event. Sabbath main man Tony Iommi also looks fabulous, sporting a satanic beard and blue tinted spectacles. I am pleased to see the man who is indirectly responsible for SunnO))) and all those other droney metal bands. Geezer Butler has also been at the hair dye, and is here too, along with Vinny Appice, who has the most ridiculous drum kit. The new songs aren’t bad, but it is when they play their few older songs that this band generates quite a power.

Overall this concert was a bit of a disappointment. Both bands could do better, maybe their adoring fans prevent them from seeking to improve. As at many metal shows the audience was surprisingly friendly, really they were the best part of this show.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sonic Youth & Awesome Color @ Fox Theater Oakland, 2-Aug-2009

I had not realised that the newly reopened Fox Theater is so huge. It has a capacity of 3800, standing downstairs, seated upstairs. The moorish decorations are cool, I particularly liked this deity which reminded me of the cover of the Dungeons and Dragons Player's Guide.

After having previously seen Nirvana and Sun Ra as support bands for Sonic Youth I was careful to be on time to see Awesome Color. They seemed a bit small in this venue, perhaps they should have huddled more. They were super polite and kept giving respect to Sonic Youth. Their best moments are when the guitarist wrestled a small monitor against his guitar. This made a delightful squealing until an electrical problem cut out the sound. That never happened to Jimi. Later there is some more play with the monitor which seemed to involve standing on a guitar. I am not too old to enjoy this sort of thing.

The audience is mostly white and fairly young. There were a few children, I saw a ten year old wearing a Sonic Youth tee shirt I used to have.

This is my fourth time seeing Sonic Youth. They now have a permanent bass player and so Kim Gordon alternates between bass and guitar. This means sometimes they have three guitarists. It is a Rule of Rock that no band with three guitarists is any good, but Sonic Youth have smashed that rule forever, they now sound better than at any time before. People have complained about the sound at the Fox but it was clear and I could hear each guitar separately when they played those pieces with chained chiming bits. As well as the pretty tunes there are the superbly executed surges of ecstatic noise. Most of the songs are from their last two CDs. At the end they play more of their earlier punkier stuff.

No review of Sonic Youth is complete without a picture of Kim Gordon. I tried to write about her but it sounded all gushy and I have deleted it. I will just say that she is an admirable figure.

sonic youth at the fox theatre

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Examiner headline: Muni mashes SUV on Market

Historic streetcars sandwich vehicle in yet another mishap for accident-plagued agency.